Following the much anticipated launch at last year’s Louisville Show, Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC went into full production in early January with its new generation of Prowler trailers, operating from a newly acquired, dedicated facility at its Elkhart, Ind., campus.
“Based on the positive response in Louisville and solid retail interest in the early January and February shows, it is obvious that dealers and retail consumers want Prowler in the marketplace,” Nick Eppert, Prowler general manager, stated in a news release. “We are focusing all of our efforts to fulfill our model lineup as quickly as possible and bring this legendary brand back to the marketplace in time for the spring selling season.”
The iconic Prowler nameplate was purchased among a portfolio of 15 brands from Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2009. Heartland, which was acquired by Thor Industries Inc. last September, emphasized that while the Prowler’s revival was based on its strong name recognition the new generation will “establish its own identity among consumers.”
“From the outset, our management has said that Prowler would not be a re-branded, re-badged clone product,” Eppert said. “The Prowler product will be autonomous from any other Heartland or Thor product currently in the market.”
He noted that Heartland’s investment in independent facilities and personnel would also eliminate the “normal constraints” involved in a product launch. “Having a dedicated facility to Prowler, we do not have production constraints and can deliver product to our dealers in a timely manner as the spring selling season approaches,” said Eppert. “Our ability to react to the market and offer more overall value will separate Prowler dealers from their competitors.”
Eppert reported the new Prowler line will consist of both wood-and-aluminum and laminated travel trailers, along with mid-profile fifth-wheel floorplans. “We will be hitting the heart of the towable market,” he said. “As with all of Heartland’s products, we will distinguish the Prowler with innovative, set-apart features and aggressive pricing that will promote franchise value for our dealers.”
Heartland’s new Prowler towables, a brand name that harkens back for decades as one of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.’s towable mainstays, will consist of a wood-and-aluminum travel trailers and laminated travel trailers and mid-profile fifth-wheels when the line is up and running.
The new Prowler brand is still in its infancy after a brief cameo trade appearance in early October at the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association International Con/Expo. “We haven’t shipped one Prowler yet,” said Prowler General Manager Nick Eppert. “We’re really going to take the month of November to hand-select some key dealers. We are taking a long-term approach to this brand and do not intend on flooding the market with dealers.”
”This strategy should help to ensure our dealers’ and the Prowler brands’ success in the marketplace.”
Eppert says the Prowler, one of several Fleetwood brands purchased out of the former Fleetwood’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy, will be the only ex-Fleetwood line at Louisville.
“It’s an all-encompassing brand from mid-profile fifth-wheels down to ‘stick-and-tin-trailers,’ which makes it unique,” Eppert added. “And it gives us a totally different look. It’s going to have new wood grain interiors and certain select features that you won’t find in any of our other brands.”
Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC today (June 9) announced plans to aggressively revive the iconic Prowler brand, launching production of the former legendary Fleetwood towable line late this summer in a dedicated production facility.
Heartland acquired the Prowler brand among a portfolio of 15 brands from Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2009. The decision to launch the Prowler series was based on its popularity and incredibly strong brand recognition in the marketplace, according to a news release.
“We view Prowler as arguably the greatest towable name in the history of the recreational vehicle industry,” said Tim Hoffman, vice president of sales for the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder.
“The response from dealers and consumers alike has been overwhelming once people heard that we had acquired the Prowler brand,” added Heartland Director of Sales Coley Brady.
He said Heartland is planning an invitation-only dealer showing for Prowler this summer. “As testament to Prowler’s strength in the market, for 13 years straight Prowler was the No. 1 selling travel trailer and fifth-wheel brand combined (according to Statistical Surveys, Inc.) — a run that has not been repeated.”
Brady said that Heartland will initially offer a wide range of towable products under the Prowler brand. “We have doubled our Louisville show space in anticipation of displaying a series of new product lines bearing former Fleetwood nameplates, Prowler being one,” Brady said.
In line with Heartland’s other towable offerings, the Prowler products will represent “an exceptional and exciting value at retail,” according to Hoffman.
“Prowler will offer RVers unique, set-apart features at some very key price points,” he said. “We have engaged an interior designer specifically for the Prowler launch to ensure that we are developing products that are totally in line with what today’s buyer desires.”
Hoffman added that “Prowler will feature intelligent differentiation from existing Heartland products that are obviously performing exceptionally well in a very competitive market.”
Heartland currently markets more than 15 brands of fifth-wheels and travel trailers and has captured the No. 3 market share in the fifth-wheel category. Heartland’s towable RVs are sold through an independent network of dealers throughout the United States and Canada. The company has more than 1,100 employees.